Elevate your flower arrangements with these 6 expert-recommended vases


Whenever you have family and friends over for dinner, whether it’s a holiday meal or a summer barbecue, sprucing up the table deserves a spot on the to-do list. This of course includes adding decorative centerpieces. There are plenty of options: gourds, candles, fruit and more. But it’s hard to go wrong with the tried and true beauty of fresh flowers.

The key to a good arrangement, however, isn’t necessarily the flowers; the container you put the bouquet in can make or break a floral display. Yes, you can grab the nearest glass of water, put your flowers in it, and call it a day. Flowers, after all, are flowers. But to really enhance the look of an arrangement, care must be taken when choosing the container.

A tall vase works over a mantelpiece, sideboard, or unused table, where it doesn’t block table conversation. Lower vases, on the other hand, work well almost anywhere. And bud vases can be used alone or in groups for smaller arrangements, creating a cohesive and intentional look.

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“Repetition gives a really luxurious look without breaking the bank,” says Alison Higgins, owner of Grace Flowers Hawaii.

And while the right container can make your arrangement sing, it’s important to choose something that won’t show off the flowers. “The rule of thumb is to have a neutral vase and then go crazy with whatever flowers or foliage you use,” says Gina Lett Shrewsberry, florist and owner of Inspiration by Gina in California. (If more is more your style, feel free to use colorful or patterned vases.)

We asked Higgins, Lett Shrewsberry and Cynthia Zamariathe Toronto author of “House and flower: bringing forgotten houses and gardens back to lifeto share their favorite flower vases. Consider this your capsule wardrobe of vases.

Higgins says that while many people overlook the bud vase, it’s often the vase you need the most. “I was buying bigger vases, nice antiques,” she says, “but I’ve realized that often you want something a little smaller.” And a bud vase is ideal when the kids pick out something sweet for you. Higgins likes the mouth-blown versions of Little Tomato Glass in Portland, Oregon, like the amber bud vasewhich comes in three shapes: tall, round or chunky ($44, littletomatoglass.com).

Zamaria also loves a bud vase. “You just need to add the simplest spray of flowers or dried grass to make a gorgeous statement,” she says. One of his favorites is the 6.25 inch concrete bud vase by Studio50 Living ($37, studio50.ca). Zamaria recommends scattering or swirling several small vases of a similar color, texture, or pattern across the table, so “everyone can enjoy them.”

When looking for height, like on a fireplace, Lett Shrewsberry suggests Crate & Barrel’s Direction vase, which stands 11 inches tall and is made of glass ($24.95, crateandbarrel.com). Zamaria loves tall vases like this for “longer, longer stemmed blooms and impressive displays.”

“A six- to eight-inch vase that suits your home decor is ideal when you get a few flowers from a local florist,” says Higgins. British designer Ilse Crawford designed the Konstfull ($17.99, ikea.com), a 6.25 inch green-brown glass vase with ridges in the bottom to support loose stems, such as roses. “Any vase with a built-in mechanic that makes arrangement easier is a bonus,” adds Zamaria.

Lett Shrewsberry, whose work was featured in the book “Black Flora: Profiles of Inspirational Black Flower Farmers and Floristsused terracotta pots for table arrangements at a recent wedding. Magnolia small Adrienne textured vase is a perfect medium sized vase ($24, magnolia.com). Dried or fake stems will not require lining, but live flowers in water will.

Zamaria likes floral supply company Afloral for all types of vase shapes. “They have a classic simple compote or a cup-shaped ceramic vase, which is just the right size to be filled with an avalanche of flowers,” she says. The small white ceramic compote in white stands 3.75 inches tall but 6.5 inches wide ($34, afloral.fr). Use a flower frog to hold the stems in place and include plenty of flowers to fill its wide opening, Zamaria says.

Lindsey M. Roberts is a freelance writer in North Carolina.

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